We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme about beans being the ‘musical fruit’ (the more you eat—well, you know…) But while beans may be the most notorious gas-producing food, they’re not alone.
Everyone’s gut microbiome (the composition of bacteria that live inside of your body) is unique, explains Niket Sonpal, M.D., of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, so the foods that trigger major gas buildup can vary from person to person—but we’ve all experienced the feeling.
Often times, the bloating and gas are caused by how well your body is able to digest the foods you consume. If you’re not able to break down the foods completely, then the bacteria in your gut will feed on what is left, causing gas and bloating, says integrative dietitian Robin Foroutan, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Your best bet for beating gas is to use an elimination diet to identify the foods that really inflate you, says Rachel Begin, M.S., R.D.N. You can work with a registered dietitian to cut certain foods from your diet for a set period of time, and reintroduce them one at a time to identify any potential intolerances. From there, your physician can perform a diagnostic test to confirm.
If you’re trying to keep your inner air pressure at a minimum, look out for these seven common gas-causing foods.
Some types of sugar are considered FODMAPs (fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharaides and polyols), a group of foods that often cause gas and discomfort, says Sonpal.
Two culprits here are monosaccharaides, like fructose in fruits, and disaccharides, like the sugar in dairy (lactose). “These sugars are converted into carbon dioxide in your gut and can contribute to an overload of gas in your belly,” says Sonpal.
Additionally, sugar alcohols, like sorbitol or maltitol, fall into the ‘polyol’ category of FODMAPs. You’ll find them in diet or calorie-free food products like sugar-free gum or soda—and while they may spare calories, our bodies can’t digest these alternative sweeteners, often leading to gas or stomach upset, like diarrhea, says Sonpal.
You know they’re good for you, but some veggies may leave you tooting. Certain veggies, like cauliflower, mushrooms, artichokes, and asparagus, also contain FODMAPs and may be tricky for your gut to process properly. The veggies that create a little extra wind often vary from person to person, says Sonpal.
Fiber may also make you gassy—especially if you eat a lot out of the blue. Insoluble fiber found in cabbage-like vegetables and root vegetables doesn’t break down in the small intestine and ferments in the colon, making it a common culprit, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
Legumes & Beans
Like with cabbage and root veggies, beans often blow you up because of their fiber content. “Sometimes the fiber in foods like beans can be difficult to break down completely,” says Foroutan. The IFFGD recommends gradually increasing the fiber in your diet over time to minimize gut-busting gassiness.
Related: 3 Ways To Show Your Tummy Some TLC
Sparkling water may be a favorite, but it can mess with your gut. “The process of carbonation forms pockets of air in your favorite fizzy drinks that can ultimately contribute to gas or general intestinal discomfort,”says Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook.
Newgent also warns that many carbonated beverages contain the FODMAP fructose, which may cause major flatulence in some people as it ferments in the colon. Soda and fizzy drinks that involve fruit juice are often loaded with this type of monosaccharide. Instead, try putting lemon slices, orange slices, or strawberries (which have a much lower amount of fructose) in your water if you like to sip on something sweet.
Plenty of us have experienced threatening stomach grumbles or excess gas after noshing on cheese or ice cream, and that’s because many people don’t produce enough lactase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose. And sadly, we produce less of it as we age, Begin explains. Meanwhile, people with celiac or Crohn’s disease, or who were recently ill or underwent surgery, may also experience worsened lactose intolerance because of possible damage to the small intestine.
Some level of dairy sensitivity is common for many adults, but if you’re truly lactose intolerant, you’ll probably deal with some explosive toilet time in addition to discomfort and gas, says Sonpal. (Many people take the enzyme lactase in supplement form to combat such moments.)
Wheat gets a pretty bad rap when it comes to stomach issues, and the trouble boils down to a word you’ve certainly heard before: gluten. (That’s the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley often associated with stomach troubles.)
But let’s clear one thing up: Feeling extra gassy after eating wheat may indicate a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but doesn’t mean you have celiac disease, explains Sonpal.
In celiac disease (which can be identified with a blood test), the body cannot break down gluten and the immune system reacts by attacking the small intestine and damaging its lining, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. This results not only in loads of GI distress, but diminishes the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, potentially leading to other long-term health issues.
Not only do most sugar-free gums contain sorbitol (a FODMAP), but constant chomping can make you swallow excess air, says Newgent. So in addition to gut bacteria feeding on those undigested sweeteners and releasing gas, your not-so-cute chewing also contributes to the bulge you feel in your belly later on.